Just two years ago at OSCON, Facebook, Google, Myspace, and others all joined forces to create the Open Web Foundation, a sort of GPL-like agreement for platform builders to have a common agreement users could understand. Facebook announced their first support of the OWF agreement in November of 2009 with the launch of the OAuth WRAP protocol, an experimental protocol intended to lead to a more open authentication and authorization platform for Facebook. Today, with the launch of a new, non-Facebook centric protocol page for OpenGraphProtocol.org, Facebook announced their second entry under the Open Web Foundation Agreement. According to Tantek Celik, and confirmed by Facebook’s David Recordon on the OWF mailing list, ‘Facebook’s “The Open Graph Protocol” is the most recent user/adopter of the OWFa’.
What does this mean? Basically, it means that the new Open Graph Protocol announced by Facebook yesterday is under a completely open license agreement that other platform creators can adopt, use, and freely distribute without worry of patent. As I said, in many ways it is similar to the GPL, in that platforms created under this agreement are intended to be re-used and distributed across the web, keeping the license in tact.
The Open Graph Protocol defines specific meta tags which sites can integrate to identify themselves as a “Page” on Facebook’s social graph. Doing so, and identifying it with Facebook, enables that Page to receive likes, activity updates, and more via Facebook users and “Social Widgets” they can incorporate from Facebook on the site. I’m still unclear how this benefits anyone but Facebook.
While Facebook’s internal APIs still appear to remain proprietary, it’s good to see Facebook starting to open up. The good thing about this protocol is anyone can mimick it or duplicate its functionality for their own purposes. This is something, other than OAuth WRAP, which Facebook just hasn’t had up until this point. Let’s hope this trend continues.